Special Mass aimed at comforting infertile couples

St. Gerard Majella, an 18th century Redemptorist Brother, is the patron saint of expectant mothers and unborn children. Many faithful invoke the saint’s aid to conceive a child. (TheMothersSaint.org)
St. Gerard Majella, an 18th century Redemptorist Brother, is the patron saint of expectant mothers and unborn children. Many faithful invoke the saint’s aid to conceive a child. (TheMothersSaint.org)

Couples struggling with infertility may find comfort in knowing they’re not alone when they attend the St. Gerard’s Mass of Comfort and Hope set for 6 p.m. April 24 inside the chapel of the Diocesan Pastoral Center, 400 E. Monroe St. in Phoenix.

The special liturgy, sponsored by the diocesan Office of Natural Family Planning, will offer Mass-goers hope in some of the Church-approved resources that may help them. Couples can take gifts that depict the patron saint of a happy childbirth. Resources and refreshments follow alongside testimony from two couples who will share their journey.

The premise for the Mass began with the simple idea of walking with people who are experiencing infertility, said Erin Campbell, who is on the board of directors for the NFP office, and is helping coordinate this year’s liturgy.

“People feel like, ‘It’s been acknowledged. My burden has been revealed,’” Campbell said.

“And here are others who can share this burden with me,” said Cindy Leonard, coordinator of the diocesan NFP office.

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St. Gerard’s Mass of Comfort and Hope

When: 6 p.m., April 24

Where: Diocesan Pastoral Center, 400 E. Monroe St., Phoenix

Info: nfp@diocesephoenix.org or call Erin Campbell at (602) 531-8154

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She said the St. Gerard Mass will shed light on the Church’s clear and compassionate teachings on what a couple is allowed to do licitly as a means of conception. The NFP office has heard from many who attended the previous Masses that couples didn’t know the Church’s teaching regarding infertility. Some infertile couples, in desperation, turn to methods of conception that go against Church teaching — such as in vitro fertilization and assistive reproductive technology — and later have regrets, Leonard said.

All of the NFP methods are morally acceptable with no medical side effects. The NFP office knows of at least two infertile couples who attended one of the Masses in the past and were able to conceive later on.

“What we hear is how grateful couples are because they feel they’ve been overlooked and because they have to hear homilies and such all around the family,” Leonard said.

Couples who come to the Mass and reception can venerate a third class relic of St. Gerard and receive a blessed medal and holy card bearing his image to take home. They can also connect with resources regarding NaPro Technology and the diocesan NFP office to learn about licit treatments.

Catholic Charities representatives will be available to discuss the agency’s adoptions services, and couples can also connect with St. Timothy Parish’s adoption and foster care support group. Copies of Donum Viate, a Vatican document on respect for human life and the dignity of procreation, will also be available.